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Council braces for thick smoking ban debate

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Springfield City Council is preparing for a long meeting, and the culprit is a proposed ban on smoking in public buildings.

At least 25 people already have asked to speak on the proposal, which would ban smoking in nearly all public buildings. The city's current ban exempts several types of eateries, including those that earn more than 50 percent of their revenue from alcohol, generate $200,000 or greater in annual gross sales from alcohol or have less than 50 seats and those that have separate smoking sections with separate ventilation systems.

The proposal was announced June 10 by a group led by One Air Alliance and Springfield Mayor Jim O’Neal.

At least one local retailer is leading the charge against the proposal. Christian Hutson, owner of Just For Him, said his shop - which sells specialty tobacco products, could be forced to move out of the city or close entirely if the ban passes.

Springfield Business Journal's cover story this week sheds light on both sides of the issue.

“In this economic situation we find ourselves in, I don’t understand why the mayor is going to make it harder on small businesses,” Hutson said. “If we are unable to smoke in my cigar shop, our shop would probably wither and die."

Council will have a first reading of the bill Monday night and could vote on the bill at its next meeting, on July 12. Council's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in Historic City Hall, 840 Boonville Ave.[[In-content Ad]]

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